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June 19, 2014

Two Jacksonville council members sworn in, as Chandler bids adieu

JACKSONVILLE — The Jacksonville City Council meeting Tuesday was full of sentiment, as Councilwoman Ann Chandler bid adieu and two others were sworn in to office.

Chandler was presented with a plaque for her service on the council. However, by the end of the council meeting, she was back on the community's radar.

"Gail Kent has resigned on the (Vanishing Texana Museum) Board. The Library Board makes recommendations to fill the Museum Board, and they nominate Ann Chandler to fill the vacancy," Jacksonville Mayor Kenneth Melvin read from the council's agenda.

The appointment was approved.

Meanwhile, Precinct 2 Councilman Jeff Smith was sworn in for another term by Melvin, and Arron Swink was sworn in to fill Chandler's Precinct 4 council seat. He immediately filled the vacancy for his first official meeting.

The majority of the council meeting focused on updates to the city's master plan and updates for parks and open spaces.

Council members approved a resolution authorizing updates and another resolution to discuss and consider a grant with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

"We provide up to $400,000 in land, and if we get the grant they provide $400,000 cash," Raissi said.

The council also approved Raissi as the representative for dealing with grants with the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.

According to MarkSpencer of MHS Planning & Designs, the Master Plan is required to be updated every five years in order to qualify for a grant program.

"The focus for this is to update and rehabilitate existing parks in the community," said Hunter Rush, of MHS Planning & Design.

Rush and Spencer presented the council with proposals for a sprayground at Nichols Green and ideas for other improvements including a paved walking track and a basketball court.

"It's always important to repeat that Jacksonville's park system among cities its size is exceptional," Spencer said.

A $195,500 and a $225,000 sprayground proposal were presented to the council. For the lesser amount, no money would be needed from the city's budget. However, about $36,000 would have been needed to create the larger sprayground.

The council approved the smaller, $195,000 sprayground proposal. Creating a walking track will cost $65,000; lights for the track will be $75,000; updates to the basketball court will be $10,000; furniture will cost $7,000; irrigation modifications will cost $5,000; and a design fee is set at $42,000. The total cost of updates, including land, will be $800,000, Raissi said.

Approval of the grant is needed before any updates are put into action, Raissi added.

Another topic of design included the city's billboard located on U.S. Hwy. 69. The council approved the renewal of the billboard lease for an annual cost of $5,796. In addition, a $695 fee to Autry Design was approved to make the billboard highlight the area's hotel/motel industry.

"This came about when talking to some of the hotel owners. One of them had another hotel in the metroplex, and the city had put a billboard up (highlighting hotels and motels). They said it was very successful in helping with the occupancy rates," Raissi said.

Funding for the billboard will be taken from the city's hotel/motel tax revenue.

In other council items, Brenda Stahelin was re-appointed to a three-year term on the Planning & Zoning Commission, while Steve Berry was appointed to represent Precinct 4 on the Board of Adjustment and Appeals and Codes. An appointment to the board for Precinct 2 was tabled.

In the comments from the city manager's portion of the meeting, Raissi announced that the city made $20,718.62 during the surplus equipment auction that ended June 9.

Raissi also touted a successful City Clean-Up Day on June 7, and he said the East Texas Council of Governments approved a sanitation grant to pay for $3,000 of the cleanup efforts.

 

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